Last month Teacher Plus had the opportunity to co-host a webinar in collaboration with the philanthropic platform Wishwa, on a question that we have all been grappling with over the past 16 months. How do we make the most of online learning?
Joined by three of our frequent contributors — Sheela Ramakrishnan, Neerja Singh and Simran Luthra — I moderated a discussion around the various aspects of this question, with each of our experts bringing up multiple points of view. All three panelists talked about the need to re-think both the content and the context of teaching, and offered ways in which we as teachers could draw from research to make ourselves more agile and adaptable. While recognizing the limitations of infrastructure and materials, it was clear that there was much to take away from this year. Sheela pointed to the need for parents and teachers to work together as a team, with parents reinforcing the instructions and expectations of teachers. Neerja emphasized that this moment has shown us which skills we need to focus on that will help children become future ready. Simran dwelt on how teachers could build more creative approaches to assessments that take into account the realities of the online environment (the temptation to copy-paste from the web, for instance).
The lively discussion that went on in the meeting chat as well as the questions that followed the panel presentation affirmed the relevance and urgency of the topic. Parents were worried about the impact of screen time and were anxious about learning outcomes. Teachers raised queries about sustaining motivation and engagement. It was clear that both groups had similar hopes and anxieties about children, and both were just as confused about the impact of the lockdown.
It’s not often that parents and teachers get to be in the same room to discuss and debate the broader aims and objectives of education. Most of their interactions tend to be focused on individual performance and what went right or wrong. In these discussions, we can lose sight of the broader context within which children — and teachers — function, and how this can be made more productive with the cooperation of parents and teachers.
In this issue, we have two stories exploring facets of this collaborative relationship, and how this might evolve over the course of the child’s journey through a school. Perhaps your school has an interesting model of engaging parents that we can learn from? We’d love to hear about it, and possibly feature it in a future issue of the magazine too! You may also want to check out the webinar recording, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G_Vk8eMb2Q